Writer/Artist: You Higuri
Translated by: Christine Schilling
Adapted by: N/A
What They Say
From birth, Cesare Borgia is surrounded by hellish shadows that threaten to consume him. Damned by his own father, hated by his closest brother, separated from the sister who loves him and driven by the demons of Hell itself, he sets out on a quest for power that threatens to set the world of Renaissance Italy ablaze. Will he find salvation in Michelotto, a mysterious assassin bent on saving Cesare's soul - even if it means slaying his demon-possessed body? Or will all of Italy be seduced by the tragic eyes of the infamous murderer known as Cesare Borgia?
While Cesare succeeded in his behind the scenes gambit to drive the French army out of Italy, his inability to work out in the open meant that his long-term goal of Italian reunification failed due to the short-sighted greed of others. With the Orsini family pressing, Cesare launches yet another scheme within a scheme, this time to ensure the disgrace of his much-loved younger brother Juan.
All is not peaceful in the Pesaro household, either. Giovanni is getting increasingly impatient with the restrictions placed on his marriage to Lucrezia, but when he tries to force the issue he gets strongly rebuffed. When the pope summons her back to Rome, Giovanni winds up spreading rumors about Lucrezia's relationship with her brother Chesare, which spread like wildfire. These rumors and a chance encounter force Lucrezia to face what her true feelings and desires are, a revelation that shakes the foundation of her world. But even though she has realized her true desires, she remains nothing more than a pawn in the pope's hands, to be used at his whim.
Vanozza's death has left Cesare badly damaged, although he manages to hid it well...most of the time. Chiaro becomes increasingly important to Cesare, helping him in ways that nobody else possibly could, but his growing feelings for Lucrezia threaten that crucial bond and leave Cesare vulnerable to the demonic forces that are fighting to control him.
Tightly plotted, beautifully executed, and full of more twists and turns than a maze, this is manga at its finest. You Higuri is a master of her craft, and she's created something truly remarkable in Cantarella. While this volume doesn't have the sheer grand scope of some of the earlier volumes, the tighter focus on Cesare and the few people who actually influence him is pulled off so well that the story never loses its epic feel. Highly recommended.